More evenly distributed - The space economy and opportunities for businesses

This week saw the highly anticipated launch of the Starliner/AtlasV launch by NASA/Boeing, as well as the launch of SpaceX Starship for a fourth test mission, all while SpaceX broke industry records with 14 launches in one month. In total there were 28 launches in May alone (with only one failure for a North Korean spy satellite).

To say that we're in a new space race is an understatement.

But it's very different this time. It's commercial interests driving the race to get access to new resources and technologies, which will have a profound impact on the shape of the economy of the future. Mix in the various geopolitical issues that arise and it is certainly worth preparing for this disruptive force.

But first, let's go through this week's signals...

Signals from the future:

Emerging trends that are likely to drive changes to the way we live, work and do business.

Society:

Climate / Energy:

Future of work:

Focus Issue - The space economy and opportunities for businesses

The global space economy is booming and projected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2035, up from $630 billion in 2023, representing an enormous opportunity for businesses and economic growth. This expansion is being driven by rapid advancements in space technologies, increasing demand for connectivity and data services, and the emergence of innovative commercial space companies and visionary leaders.

Growth in the space economy is expected to come from both traditional "backbone" applications like satellites and launchers, as well as new "reach" applications where space tech helps terrestrial industries generate revenue. AI, machine learning, greater mobile connectivity needs, and solutions to global challenges like climate change are all contributing to the sector's projected annual growth rate that is double that of GDP.

The space industry is being transformed from a national competition to a commercial and resource-oriented endeavour, with a particular focus on the lunar south pole. Commercial space startups and leaders like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are opening up new opportunities in space infrastructure, lunar exploration and mining. The commercial space market could double to $1.1 trillion by 2030.

Australia is poised to capitalise on the space economy, with its space industry currently valued at around A$5 billion annually. The country has geographic and technical advantages, including proximity to the equator, clear skies, emerging space tech, and a focus on in-space manufacturing. Government support through the Australian Space Agency, initiatives like the A$150 million Moon to Mars program, and $3 billion in total investment from 2018-2023 are accelerating its space industry growth and global collaborations.

To fully realise the economic and societal benefits of space, issues like space debris, regulatory inconsistencies, and equitable access need to be addressed. Despite some recent investment downturns, the long-term funding and innovation outlook for the space sector remains positive. Updated international governance frameworks that emphasise safety, ethics, sustainability and align with human values will be key, especially as private sector involvement in space increases.

The new space race presents massive opportunities for businesses - in advanced technologies, lunar and asteroid mining, space infrastructure and transportation, Earth observation and connectivity, and more. Forward-thinking companies that invest in space capabilities and partner with commercial space leaders will be well-positioned for growth. However, they must also navigate an evolving regulatory landscape and consider the broader implications of space development on the economy, environment and humanity. The next decade will be pivotal in establishing a sustainable, inclusive and thriving space economy that benefits all.

Consider these strategic insights:

  • Identify niche opportunities in the space supply chain: Assess your company's capabilities and explore how they could be applied to emerging needs in the space industry, such as specialised components, materials, or services that support space infrastructure and missions.
  • Collaborate with space startups and agencies: Seek out partnerships with innovative local space companies and government initiatives to leverage their expertise, access funding opportunities, and contribute to the growth of the space ecosystem.
  • Develop space-enabled solutions for terrestrial industries: Explore how space technologies, such as satellite imagery, remote sensing, and advanced analytics, can be integrated into your existing products or services to create new value propositions and revenue streams in sectors like agriculture, mining, or environmental monitoring.
  • Invest in upskilling and talent development: Build your company's space capabilities by providing training and development opportunities for employees in areas like space systems engineering, data analysis, and space law, ensuring your workforce is prepared to capitalise on the expanding space economy.

Deep strategy:

Longer form articles rich with insights:

  • How to Future-Proof Your Strategy - HBR.org - Strategic foresight and long-term scenario planning are key for organisations to navigate uncertainty effectively and build resilient strategies.
  • Why You Need to Stress Test Your Strategies (and Tactics) - Harvard Business Review - Enhance strategic planning with corporate war games to simulate competitive environments and drive innovation, emphasising thorough preparation and actionable playbooks.
  • A New Model for Continuous Transformation - Harvard Business Review - Continuous transformation in organisations requires an agile mindset, ongoing aspirations, and integration into the operating rhythm to keep pace with today's dynamic business environment.
  • Overcoming The Modern Productivity Paradox - Forbes - Eliminating application sprawl and focusing on process improvement over individual tasks enhances productivity and reduces inefficiencies in companies.
  • Innovate Through Insight - Strategic Thinking Institute - Unlocking unique insights drives strategic innovation, but many execs lack this foundation. Recording and reflecting on insights can lead to valuable outcomes.

Business at the point of impact:

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